A SEEMINGLY extravagant and wealthy woman, who died after taking cyanide was a swindler, known to have cheated her friends of money, a Coroner's Court heard yesterday. A jury returned an open verdict in the case of Lam Pui-fan, 33, who died at her live-in boyfriend's home in Kowloon Bay on November 20, last year. After the hearing, both Lam's ex-husband, Tse Kam-shing, 31, and her boyfriend, Leung Kor-wai, 42, said they still believed she had committed suicide. ''I think she was pressurised by the debts that she had incurred,'' Mr Tse said. He attributed their separation partly to the fact that Lam had been unable to control her dishonesty, probably due to her character and mental illness. Lam is survived by two sons, aged nine and seven, now under Mr Tse's care. Earlier, Coroner's Officer Arthur Luk asked the court to return all exhibits to police pending further advice from the Legal Department. Coroner Rodney Venning said Mr Leung testified that he was in police custody for two days following Lam's death. Mr Venning said, at the time, Mr Leung was considered to have had direct involvement or to have assisted in a suicide. The court heard Lam poured a potion of what Mr Leung believed to be a herbal liquid into a glass from a vacuum flask that day. She drank a mouthful and said it was bitter. She then fell asleep and was later found to have stopped breathing. Mr Leung had obtained a plastic bag of cyanide from a friend after being told to do so by Lam about one or two weeks before her death. She told him she had consumed cyanide mixed with Chinese herbs several times before, saying it could cure illnesses. Mr Tse said Lam telephoned him that morning, asking him to pick up their sons from school as she was going on a business trip. He was informed of her death the following day. The court heard Lam talked her friends into lending her money by presenting herself as a wealthy businesswoman owning several factories. Two victims, one of whom was an insurance agent, said Lam had left them a telephone number, claiming it was either a number of a business friend or a number of her factory, when it was, in fact, Mr Leung's home number. Li Lai-ping, 64, said she used to be a dim sum worker at a restaurant frequented by Lam, who persuaded her to work for her as a maid. Ms Li said during the five months she worked for Lam, she did not receive a salary. Lam claimed the money was being invested for her. What she got each month was a sum which Lam claimed was profit from the investment. She was also cheated into giving Lam more than $300,000 for investment. A further loan of $430,000 was given to Lam after she told Ms Li about having cash flow difficulties involving her factory. Lau King-heung, Ms Li's former colleague, said Lam bought three insurance policies worth a total of US$450,000 (about HK$3.5 million) from her when she was working as an insurance agent, naming Mr Leung as the beneficiary. Lam also tricked Ms Lau into lending her $100,000 by claiming that she was required to raise a total of $1.2 million to help arrange for Ms Li's six children to come from China to Hongkong.